In this paper recent research is reviewed on the effects of yoga poses on psychological conditions including anxiety and depression, on pain syndromes, cardiovascular, autoimmune and immune conditions and on pregnancy. Further, the physiological effects of yoga including decreased heartrate and blood pressure and the physical effects including weight loss and increased muscle strength are reviewed. Finally, potential underlying mechanisms are proposed including the stimulation of pressure receptors leading to enhanced vagal activity and reduced cortisol. The reduction in cortisol, in turn, may contribute to positive effects such as enhanced immune function and a lower prematurity rate.
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